Linking Classroom to the World

 

Ida McCann & Claire Hiller

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Two forms of desktop videoconferencing networks have been established in Tasmanian state schools. Initially for use in the LOTE learning area, the networks have been used by educators, administrators and students for collaborative projects, for meetings and for shared learning between remote sites. A network of PictureTel units is used primarily for Professional Development activities and administrators' meetings, while a primary school network of Sharevision units is used for student interaction between schools which are otherwise remote from each other.

Currently the widest network of desktop videoconferencing equipment is used by LOTE teachers in primary schools which are involved in the implementation of the LOTE Policy. There are 50 schools with Sharevision, a standard telephone line videoconferencing product based on a desktop computer. The Sharevision network will expand further with approximately 25 to 30 schools receiving videoconferencing equipment as they come on-line in LOTE for 1998.

Schools have been encouraged to videoconference in all learning areas for distributed, co-operative learning projects between schools. The range of curriculum offered covers K - 10, in both mainstream and specialist curriculum areas. Sharevision videoconferencing is well suited to small teams and co-operative learning.

Currently there are approximately 80 teachers around the State who are involved in the professional development courses for the Graduate Certificate of LOTE Teaching, delivered using PictureTel videoconferencing systems. For many teachers, the learning is coming to them in their own locality or school, giving them equitable access to Professional Development opportunities and saving them time and travelling.

Students at Exeter High School in northern Tasmania are being helped to make crucial career choices through an innovative program called Transition Teams. An idea which originates from the United Kingdom, Transition Teams consist of self-managing teams of young people who design and carry out projects investigating future options for education, training and employment.

The process takes the young people out into their local community to talk to business people and others in a wide range of occupations. After the teams have been in the community they share their findings with their peers at the school. There are 19 schools trialling the concept nationally.

The Tanjung Bara school in East Kalimantan, Indonesia has been operating since 1990 and is administered by the Hartz School District of the Tasmanian Department of Education, Community and Cultural Development. Five Tasmanian teachers are employed at the school. Enny Esmoronini, the only Indonesian teacher at the school, visited Tasmania in 3rd term 1997 for a six week professional development and cultural awareness program. Enny teaches Bahasa Indonesian to 63 ex-patriot children from Australia, Britain, India and Canada. n

Ida McCann and Claire Hiller, Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania

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